Police and FBI agents were working to figure out why a man from Indiana had three assault rifles and chemicals used in making explosives in his car some 2,000 miles from home in Southern California, where he told the officers arresting him that he was headed to a gay pride parade.
Santa Monica police and the FBI, which was leading the investigation, were examining the intentions of James Wesley Howell, 20, who told police he was going to LA Pride in West Hollywood, an event that annually draws hundreds of thousands of people. His arrest came just a few hours after at least 50 people were shot and killed in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, though police said they had found no evidence of a connection between the events.
Howell, of Jeffersonville, was arrested around 5 a.m. after residents called police to report suspicious behavior by a man who parked his white Acura sedan facing the wrong way. When officers arrived they saw an assault rifle sitting in Howell's passenger seat, Santa Monica police Lt. Saul Rodriguez said.
That prompted them to search the whole car. They found two more assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and ammunition and a five-gallon bucket with chemicals that could be used to make an explosive device, police said.
Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks initially tweeted that Howell told officers he wanted to "harm" the gay pride event, but she later corrected her statement to say only that Howell said he was going to the parade.